The slow motion “coup d’etat” rolls on

Trump is unlawfully seizing power to try and avoid the continuing embarrassment of his defeat at the hands of House Democrats, so today he announced that he is declaring a national emergency as a scam to fund his border wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a Rose Garden speech, Trump said his administration planned to confront his made up “crisis” on the border “one way or another.”

Trump continues to insist that his wall is necessary for border security. Falsely claiming the United States is facing “an invasion” of drugs, human traffickers, and criminal gangs.

Trump’s traitorous cohort’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell Kentucky and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham both applauded his plan to declare a national emergency so he can illegally reallocate funds to pay for his wall without Congressional approval.

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi warned against the move, saying “Want to talk about a national emergency, let’s talk about today, the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America,”  “That’s a national emergency. Declare that an emergency, She dared Trump “I wish you would.”  But a Democratic president can do that. So the precedent that Trump is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by Republicans and we respond accordingly when we review our options.”

Trump noted that the next likely move will be lawsuits questioning his declaration of “emergency” and lawsuits over the separation of powers.

The idiot Trump admits that his emergency order will likely go down in flames in U.S. courts. “We will have a national emergency,” Trump said, before adding, “and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling, we’ll get another bad ruling, then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, then hopefully we’ll get a fair shake, and we’ll win in the Supreme Court.”

Trump the fool then admits he didn’t actually need to sign an emergency order to build the wall. “I didn’t need to do this,” Trump said of the emergency order. “But I’d rather do it much faster.” Admitting this will undercut Trump’s legal argument that he had to declare a national emergency to stop border security, as it is difficult to argue that you needed to do something when you admit that you didn’t need to do it.

Of course, as the laziest elected person ever, Trump is expected to immediately fly to his private golf club in Florida

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Trump’s economics: Socialism for his wealthy cronies, while leaving the rest of us twisting in the wind.

 

“America will never be a socialist country,” Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism.

In the conservative mind, socialism means getting something for doing nothing. That pretty much describes the $21 billion saved by the nation’s largest banks last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, some of which went into massive bonuses for bank executives. On the other hand, more than 4,000 lower-level bank employees got a big dose of harsh capitalism. They lost their jobs.

Banks that are too big to fail – courtesy of the 2008 bank bailout – enjoy a hidden subsidy of some $83 billion a year, because creditors facing less risk accept lower interest on deposits and loans. Last year, Wall Street’s bonus pool was $31.4 billion. Take away the hidden subsidy and the bonus pool disappears.

Trump and his appointees at the Federal Reserve are easing bank requirements put in place after the bailout. They’ll make sure the biggest banks remain too big to fail.

Trump is promoting socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else in other ways. Since he was elected, GM has got more than $600 million in federal contracts plus $500 million in tax breaks. Some of this has gone into the pockets of GM executives. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra raked in almost $22m in total compensation in 2017 alone.

But GM employees are subject to harsh capitalism. GM is planning to lay off more than 14,000 workers and close three assembly plants and two component factories in North America by the end of 2019.

When he was in business, Trump perfected the art of using bankruptcy to shield himself from the consequences of bad decisions – socialism for the rich at its worst – while leaving employees twisting in the wind.

Now, all over America, executives who run their companies into the ground are getting gold-plated exit packages while their workers get pink slips.

Sears is doling out $25 million to the executives who stripped its remaining assets and drove it into bankruptcy but has no money for the thousands of workers it laid off.

As Pacific Gas and Electric hurtles toward bankruptcy, the person who was in charge when the deadly infernos roared through northern California last year (caused in part by PG&E’s faulty equipment) has departed with a cash severance package of $2.5 million. The PG&E executive in charge of gas operations when records were allegedly falsified left in 2018 with $6.9 million.

Under socialism for the rich, you can screw up big time and still reap big rewards. Equifax’s Richard Smith retired in 2017 with an $18 million pension in the wake of a security breach that exposed the personal information of 145 million consumers to hackers.

Wells Fargo’s Carrie Tolstedt departed with a $125 million exit package after being in charge of the unit that opened more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts.

Around 60 percent of America’s wealth is now inherited. Many of today’s super-rich have never done a day’s work in their lives.

Trump’s response has been to cut the estate tax to apply only to estates valued at over $22 million per couple. Mitch McConnell is now proposing that the estate tax be repealed altogether.

What about the capitalist principles that people earn what they’re worth in the market, and that economic gains should go to those who deserve them?

America is on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. As rich boomers expire over the next three decades, an estimated $30 trillion will go to their children.

Those children will be able to live off of the income these assets generate, and then leave the bulk of them to their own heirs, tax-free. (Capital gains taxes don’t apply to the soaring values of stocks, bonds, mansions and other assets of wealthy people who die before they’re sold.)

After a few generations of this, almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a few thousand non-working families.

To the conservative mind, the specter of socialism conjures up a society in which no one is held accountable, and no one has to work for what they receive. Yet that’s exactly the society Trump and the Republicans are promoting for the rich.

Meanwhile, most Americans are subject to an increasingly harsh and arbitrary capitalism in which they’re working harder but getting nowhere and have less security than ever.

They need thicker safety nets and deserve a bigger piece of the economic pie. If you want to call this socialism, fine. I call it fair.

Via Raw Story, originally published at RobertReich.org

 

Oops! Don’t rush out and start spending that tax refund.

Many millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably get a rude surprised to learn that their refunds will be much less than expected or that they will actually owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds.

People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter are saying they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed.

The uproar follows the passage of Trump’s so-called major overhaul to the tax code in December 2017, which was enacted with only Republican votes and is considered the biggest legislative achievement of Trump’s first year. Remember when con-man Trump said “Let’s call it the tax cut, cut, cut bill” and bragged to his rich friends at Mara Lago that he had made them all a lot richer?

While many Americans did receive a marginal tax reduction in 2018, tax refunds are a completely different matter. Many Tax refunds have decreased because of changes in the law, such as a new limit on property and local income tax deductions, and some have decreased because of how the IRS has altered withholding in paychecks in a thinly disguised effort to make the Trump tax cut look bigger.

The average tax refund check is down an estimated $170 this year compared to last, the IRS reported Friday, and the number of people receiving a refund so far has dropped by 25%. This represents a big difference that will hit many middle-income families hard.

One word of caution this is that this is early data and reflects only returns processed through Feb. 1, and the partial government shutdown caused delays in processing filings.

Early data can shift a lot, some tax experts say, but there’s a reason to believe frustrations could rise as more Americans complete their tax returns.

There is an IRS estimate that about 4.6 million fewer filers would receive refunds this tax filing season. Another 4.6 million filers were likely to owe money who had not had that experience in the past.

There is no estimate for how many people could still receive a refund but a smaller one than before.

Edited from Bloomberg News

 

“Wrong turn for Eureka” an important response

In today’s Times-Standard, John Poimiroo a tourism professional has responded to the Eureka City Council’s controversial decision to end its relationship with the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau team and focus instead on Eureka-centric promotion.

Poimiroo is an active Travel and Outdoors writer, who was previously elected State Tourism Director of the Year by the US Travel Industry and inducted into the California Tourism Hall of Fame and California Outdoors Hall of Fame

John Poimiroo’s My Word from https://www.times-standard.com/

As California’s former state tourism director, a career tourism professional and because I have a personal interest in Humboldt County’s success (our family has owned a homestead in Alderpoint for nearly 100 years), I was alarmed to learn that the city of Eureka is considering ending its relationship with the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau team and focus instead on Eureka-centric promotion.

Ending Eureka-Humboldt’s statewide, national and international visibility would have a devastating impact on tourism, Eureka’s economy and tourism- generated tax receipts.

Some years back, the city of Oxnard similarly ended its support to its visitors bureau, choosing instead to divert funds to local needs. Within two years, hotel tax revenues plummeted, city services suffered, and its city council was replaced.

Pismo Beach experienced related losses after they reduced support to their visitors bureau, as well. As state tourism director, I used to think of Pismo Beach as California’s “squeaky wheel.” Hardly a month passed that I wasn’t called by them and reminded not to overlook Pismo Beach in our promotional efforts, but when its city council stopped funding the local bureau, Pismo Beach stopped squeaking and other destinations became louder. There’s an old saying, “Promoting a destination is like flying an airplane. Once you get the plane in the air, you don’t turn off the engines.” Suddenly changing how or to the extent Eureka and Humboldt County are marketed will sever longbuilt relationships with travel planners, tour operators, travel and outdoor writers and editors, meeting and events planners, and so on. Once that occurs, another old saying takes effect, as experienced by Pismo Beach … “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Meetings, international tourism, editorial content and travel plans are arranged from a year to two years in advance.

That means, should Eureka break away from Humboldt County, travel and tourism will continue for a while, then fall away quickly as previously established relationships erode.

Colorado learned this after it eliminated its state tourism office, years back. At first, tourism remained level there, but then competitive destinations began to go after travel segments that weren’t defended by Colorado. California did this by picking off U.K., South American and Oceanic ski and snowboard markets undefended by Colorado. Today, it’s common to hear British, Spanish, Portuguese and Australian accents at Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes midweek in winter.

During Colorado’s absence from travel marketing, California established relationships with international airlines, tour operators, media and meeting planners, convincing these travel influencers to combine winter sports with visits to California’s sunny destinations.

Though Colorado later restarted statewide tourism marketing, it lost market share to California that it never recovered. The same is likely to occur in Eureka and Humboldt County if promoting outside the county stops or is fractured.

I’ve seen how fragile tourism is to Humboldt County.

At one time, visiting the redwoods was a staple California vacation. Today, Eureka and Humboldt County compete with innumerable highly advertised attractions much further away, because of the perception it takes longer to drive to the redwoods than fly to those places and/or that the experience will be better there. To compete, Eureka and Humboldt County must sell the entire redwood coast experience, not just Eureka or Humboldt County absent Eureka.

Neither Eureka nor the rest of Humboldt County are large enough to succeed in today’s highly competitive travel promotion market by diminishing their voice through dividing the message.

When I first became state tourism director, Disneyland believed it was so well known that it didn’t need to be associated with other state destinations, but they with them.

That year, I attended the World Travel Market in London.

There, our California booth, in a remote corner of the trade show, was lined deep with tour operators and travel planners while the much larger Disney booth elsewhere on the main floor was nearly empty. Why?

Because the British travel influencers at WTM were there to develop “California” trips.

Because Disneyland didn’t participate in the California booth, it excluded itself from being considered when planning “California” trips. Disney recognized this and later corrected its error, becoming one of our greatest supporters and participants. However, should Eureka separate itself from Humboldt County, the North Coast and “California’s Redwood Coast,” it will lose visibility and tourism.

So, I urge the city of Eureka to reconsider changing the course of tourism development so well established and cultivated by the late Tony Smithers and the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau and continue to support the promotion of Eureka and Humboldt County as a unified destination.

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Another wrong turn for Eureka

“We want people when they think about the redwoods to think about Eureka. It’s time for Eureka to believe in itself as a place worthy of marketing on its own and want to utilize the marketing of Eureka as more than a draw for tourists. We want to recruit businesses and broaden the message.”  Rob Holmlund Eureka’s Community Development Director professes in The Times-Standard.  Holmlund pointed out that the city is looking to expand its marketing beyond tourism and tourism-focused marketing; he said the goal is to expand on the “live, work and play” theme focused on what the city has to offer.

For those of us that are compelled to “live, work and play” in Eureka we say WTF?

How about beginning to try to fix the many problems in Eureka, so that when tourists and visitors do accidentally stumble on the City, they are pleasantly surprised instead of horrified. We know us saying this going to really upset the “I like Eureka” crowd but we got call it as we see it.

When visitors show up now from the south the first thing that hits them is the very unattractive sprawl of South Broadway. Not too far into town, they start seeing the vast amount of street people, druggy tweakers, and houseless people walking along highway 101. A little further up the road, they get to play Eureka’s life-size VR version of Frogger.

When they arrive in the heart of the City in what should be the crown jewel of Eureka it’s Old Town. If they’re brave enough to stop and walk around they invariably run into tweakers arguing and violently spewing profanities at each other. If they take a break from yelling at each other then they’ll be hitting up the visitors for cash. If they survive all that and a walk on the boardwalk they get back to their vehicle only to find it being broken into. Now we admit not everyone gets their car broken into while visiting Eureka.
It happens enough that it’s a thing.

So go ahead Eureka, advertise your city, before you’ve made your bed and washed your dishes. Invite everyone in to see your dirty laundry.

We recommend:
Find places for all the people to live.
Get the druggies into treatment.
Most importantly get the criminals off the street!

Then promote the City……..meanwhile promoting the redwoods still makes sense.

 

Trump chump flails before House Judiciary Committee

The highly combative and seemingly unprepared Matt Whitaker fought today with the House Judiciary Committee during the hearing. This clown couldn’t or wouldn’t answer simple yes-no questions. His canned and time-wasting answers turned into a shouting match during several occasions as the hearing dragged on. One point of particular note was when a Democratic lawmaker brought up a mystery million dollar payoff he received from a conservative non-profit which refuses to reveal its donors.

One prime example:

Under intense questioning from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Whitaker attempted to bat away questions which led to continuous crosstalk as the acting Attorney General spoke over the Democratic lawmaker.

When order was restored, Raskin pressed Whitaker, asking, “See if you can get into this. Tell us where the money came from, that you were paid? The $1.2 million.”

As he has done all day, Trump flunky and defender Doug Collins (R-GA) jumped in with another “so-called” point of order, which he did numerous times during the hearing running interference for Whitaker, with the parliamentary move easily swatted away by Chairman Jerry Nadler (R-NY).

“It was reported publically that it was one donor,” Raskin continued. “As we understand it, you were the sole employee of the group. So there was one donor and one employee. Do you know who the donor was to the group who funded your salary for $1.2 million?”

“Yes, I do,” Whitaker tersely replied.
“Who was the donor?” Raskin pressed.
“The donor was another non-profit organization called the Donor’s Trust,” he replied.

“That was the pass-through vehicle, ” Raskin shot back, before pressing him once again, and hinting that he believed the payment was funneled to Whitaker by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson.

The Real State of the Union………………….The United States in decline.

A new report from Freedom House, an independent watchdog that monitors freedom and democracy across the world, contains some disturbing information about the status of democracy in America under Donald Trump.

The organization’s 2019 “Freedom in the World” report claims that freedom in the United States has continued to backslide under Donald Trump and his brash challenges to democratic norms and American traditions.

In fact, the trends in America are so disturbing that Freedom House has dedicated an entire section in its press release that details “the United States in decline.”

Even though Freedom House believes that democracy in the U.S. is still “robust,” it warns that American institutions are no longer as strong as many observers once believed.

“Having observed similar patterns in other nations where democracy was ultimately overtaken by authoritarianism, Freedom House warns that the resilience of US democratic institutions in the face of such an assault cannot be taken for granted,” the organization writes.

Among other things, Freedom House says that America’s score has been hurt over the last year by “policies and actions that improperly restricted the legal rights of asylum seekers, signs of discrimination in the acceptance of refugees for resettlement, and excessively harsh or haphazard immigration enforcement policies that resulted in the separation of children from adult family members, among other problematic outcomes.”

Read the report Democracy In Retreat at this link:

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2019

 

Meanwhile, European Leaders are justifiably worried about Trump

In a different press account, world leaders say, “We can’t live with Trump. And we can’t live without the United States.”

The story states that officials don’t know what to make of the Trump Administration that veers wildly from policy to policy and, at times, they aren’t even sure who in the U.S. government they should be addressing their concerns to.

Most worrisome, are Trump’s tweets and proclamations attacking NATO that has allies worried about the future of the mutual defense organization whose mission is to fight back against military aggression — particularly from Russia.

The Washington Post reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron have all been baffled on how to deal with Trump, and now just warily live with him and hope he doesn’t do too much damage.

“In the beginning, we thought, ‘He’s campaigning. The position will change him.’ But he changed the position of the office,” a German official admitted. “I find it shocking that, in such a short time, he has managed to rip apart a relationship that has taken decades to build.”

According to a French official, the president is just as belligerent in private as he is in his public pronouncements.

“On a number of issues, we have tried to convince him that Europe is a key partner of the United States,” confided the senior official. “He will say, ‘I don’t need you,’ and ‘Europe is worse than China.’ ”